St Albans Centurions made the hundred and seventy miles journey up the M1 to play league champions Underbank Rangers on Saturday with a squad of only fifteen players. Several players were out injured after last weeks bruising encounter with South Wales Hornets and several more were unavailable due to work commitments. The game was played, overlooking the town of Holmfirth, Yorkshire, where ‘Last of the Summer Wine ‘ is filmed, on Underbanks famous ‘sloping pitch’, but this match did not go according to the script. A very heavy pitch slowed the Cents game right down and heavy rain, wind and hail didn’t help either. Our Australian contingent said they had never been so cold in their lives.
The Centurions played ‘down the hill’ in the first half and for 10 minutes they held a fast and ferocious Underbank attack in check. Finally, the heavy pressure broke the Centurions defence and in 20 minutes the flood gates opened as the Rangers ran in 5 converted tries. All the home teams tries started in their own half and it was poor tackling of the Underbank forwards that allowed them to set up some quick balls out to their backs, who out paced the Centurions defence. Just before the half time whistle Underbank increased their lead when from their own 20 metres line they ran through the Centurions defence. It was 0 – 34 at half time
The Centurions were reduced to 13 players for the whole of the second half due to injuries to players which would not allow them to take any further part in the rest of the game. Underbank started the second half at a tremendous pace, and playing ‘downhill’ ran in a further 7 tries and kicked 6 goals against a tiring St Albans outfit who were without the benefit of any interchanges. Centurions defence can be proud of their defence inside their own 20 metre line, they held Underbank out time and again, but they had no answer to the Underbank long range efforts of scoring. Centurions played almost the last quarter of the game with only 12 men due to another player coming off injured.
Cents team manager Tony Bottomley said “We know that this season we have stepped up to a very competitive league. People in the know are already saying Underbank will be one of the top two at the end of the season. They proved how good they were today. We came here to their home ground with a weakened squad and we were punished. They were a very good team. Our lads were very down on the return trip, no-one likes to get beaten by that score, but knowing them, they will bounce back for next week. “
1. Ben Moore 2. Russ Kelloway 3. Rudie van der Merwe 4. Dan Townson 5. Sam Norris 6. Lewis Dempsey 7. Shane Rampling 8. Dylan Rampling 9. Ryan Kambouris 10. Scott Clewlow 11. Andy Lake 12. Roy Dube 13. George Stevens 14. Mike Hollister 15. Ewan Drummond